As the largest generation in the U.S., wielding growing purchasing power, Millennials have driven change in all industries – from retail to automotive, banking to healthcare, examples of disruption abound. Their preferences are backed by powerful dollars and any company foolish enough to ignore that fact will be faced with irrelevance in short order. It may be hard to imagine that such a highly regulated and decidedly personal industry as healthcare would be able to evolve to address the unique demands of the Millennial generation. But we are seeing the evolution in myriad ways.
Millennials are used to speed and convenience – even when it comes to healthcare. They inhabit a workforce that embraces freelance work as well as telecommuting, which often means little to no downtime. As such, time is valuable and healthcare, and other routine “adulting,” must be quick and efficient. Millennials don’t accept long wait times, manual processes and slow turnaround.
Due to the great value they place on convenience, Millennials demonstrate a strong preference for “fast health” option, eschewing primary care physicians as a first line of inquiry. A PNC Healthcare study found that they are twice as likely as Baby Boomers to prefer retail clinics and acute care facilities for speed and efficient healthcare delivery. This generation’s penchant for faster and more convenient options was likely a key driver for the recent launch of CVS HealthHUBs, an extension of its MinuteClinics.
Often called Digital Natives, Millennials are keen to use technology to manage their lives. Growing up with smartphones, they are not only comfortable with digital technology but expect it at every turn. As such, they are becoming increasingly comfortable with using mobile devices for more sensitive transactions such as banking and healthcare.
There are now well over 300,000 health apps available on the top app stores worldwide, nearly double the number of apps available in 2015 – and more apps are being added each day.
From wearable sensors to mobile health apps, Millennials often look to technology to create efficiencies in their lives. Beyond mobile apps, they are demanding solutions such as online health portals, online appointment scheduling, electronic medical record access and more. Hospitals and physicians are evolving to meet these needs to provide better service to their patients.
As more Millennials become parents, they are using health facilities more frequently as well. Dayton Children’s Hospital in Ohio built a new wing with features to specifically address the technology needs of Millennial parents. From simple things like having electronic chargers available and providing a robust wireless network, to more critical services like electronic signage that lists patient precautions and connecting medical devices, such as vital sign monitors, directly into the EMR, hospital executives focused on how technology would attract and build confidence with Millennials.
While providing improved patient experiences is often the goal for implementing technology solutions, it is important to understand that patient medical data is the most valuable asset on the dark web. The dark web is a massive marketplace for stolen data and personal information that often is a result of a data breach, and notably, the healthcare industry accounts for up to a third of all data breaches.
Why do fraudsters want medical data? It contains a trove of personally identifiable information (PII) that can be used for identity theft or to access medical care in the victim’s name. This information is hard to change and unlike a credit card breach, individuals have few options and little recourse when protected health information (PHI) is leaked.
Experian, an Acuant partner, found that a social security number will fetch about $1 and credit card information will garner from $5-110. Yet data-rich medical records – ideal for identity theft purposes – can rake in up to $1,000. Victims often spend more than 200 hours and an average of $13,500 to remediate the damage of medical ID theft.
Since avoiding technology and ignoring the demands of Millennials isn’t an option for organizations that plan to stay in business into the next decade, healthcare providers must find ways to balance convenience and fraud prevention. Here are a few ways to offer an improved patient experience, while protecting the organization from fraud.
Automated Intake Processes
It is possible to streamline and improve the patient experience by using mobile devices to enable credentialing, automate intake processes and power self-check in. Patients don’t want to be bogged down with administrative processes. By accelerating the registration process, the patient wait times are minimized. Something that Millennials will expect when visiting any healthcare provider.
As healthcare providers embrace mobile technology, front line staff can capture critical health data from insurance cards and patient IDs using a mobile device. Patient data can then be auto-populated into an application or EMR, reducing the chance of errors. This is especially true for credentialing, which should no longer rely on outdated, time-consuming, paper-based approaches that are definitely error prone. This is particularly helpful for reducing insurance claim rejections, which are often the result of incorrect or missing information. With an automated process, collected data is more complete and accurate, resulting in increased efficiency and accuracy while leading to faster claim processing and reduced rejections.
Instant Multi-Factor Smartphone-Enabled Identity Verification
Another benefit of using technology to automate processes is the ability to reduce fraud. It is easier to spot medical fraud using technology as compared to paper-based processes. Medical insurance fraud is a growing issue due to the high rate of identity theft. Mobile phones can scan and instantly authenticate IDs to create a trust anchor. From there, you can layer on facial recognition technology to verify a patient matches their ID by presenting with a simple selfie, all in seconds and in the same workflow. It is an easy way and powerful way to combat fraud.
Facial Recognition Over Passwords
Biometric technology can also be used when patients want access to medical test results, to book an appointment, or to pay a bill. Instead of passwords that are often re-used and possibly compromised, patients can use facial recognition technology to verify their identity and access sensitive health information or login to patient portals.
In a world where Millennials can – and do! – look up physician and hospital ratings online, patient satisfaction is a big deal. By embracing technology and putting more power (literally) in the hands of patients, healthcare staff can focus their attention creating positive experiences around patient care while benefiting from improving overall risk exposure. The result will be significant increases in patient satisfaction, reduced fraud, better data security, more efficient and effective patient visits and improved staff productivity.